Crocodile Tears for Michael Jackson?
Deaglán de Bréadún
The prolonged mourning for the late Michael Jackson is becoming distasteful. No doubt he had a great musical and theatrical talent and, of course, anyone’s death is a tragedy, especially the demise of one who was still relatively young and had a lot more to offer in artistic terms.
But really. One cannot help feeling that more worthwhile people have passed away virtually unnoticed. You would think he was a great hero of the African-American struggle when, in fact, the impression he conveyed for years and years was that he desperately wanted to be white (I am open to correction if anyone has an alternative version of events).
As with the sad death of John Lennon all those years ago, there is a growing feeling that some people are just using Jackson’s premature end as an excuse to get themselves on television.
And then there is his father, Joe, who is on telly night and day just now. According to the BBC website, when Joe was asked in 2003 if he had repeatedly beaten his son, as Michael had alleged, he replied: “I whipped him with a switch and a belt. I never beat him. You beat someone with a stick.” Why is this man allowed to show his face? (Click here to read more about the BBC interview.)
The question-marks about Michael Jackson’s relationship to children over the years, and that appalling episode where he dangled his baby over the balcony of his hotel, make one wonder even more as to why this, in many ways, unfortunate and even wretched creature is being mourned as though a great saint or public benefactor had left us.
I’m sorry he won’t be able to sing and dance for his audience – for whom he could apparently do no wrong – any more. In that sense his passing is a loss. But what one can surmise about his private life does not make one feel like weeping at great length. Having said that, I would definitely subscribe to John Donne’s dictum that “No man is an island” and that we should “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
Yet there must be gradations of grief. Some led more worthwhile lives than others and it is those who should be mourned the most. Michael Jackson should be allowed to Rest in Peace. Let’s get on with our own lives and save our tears for somebody better.